Personal Impact Paper
Regardless of which definition of chronic illness you subscribe to, be it Feldman, Cluff, or Curtin & Lublin, they all share common themes. They all describe a condition that is long lasting and persistent, requiring some medical oversight/treatment and personal retraining. Once a diagnosis is applied, specific treatments are started but the training of the individual is just that, individual. Each person has their own unique learning style. The following describes this process experienced by one patient afflicted with Crohn’s disease (CD).
CD is an inflammatory bowel disease affecting the gastrointestinal (GI) tract anywhere from the mouth to the anus. Sometimes ...view middle of the document...
Having experienced diarrhea and abdominal pain for several weeks, the patient resisted seeking medical attention. It was not until the stools became bloody did he seek help. He was 21 years old at the time; never having been sick before in his life. Naturally he was afraid.
He endured a number of tests and examinations over the course of several visits, first by his primary care physician, then by a gastroenterologist. When the results were in, he was first diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and later, following several flair-ups and treatment, CD.
Financially the impact of the diagnosis has not been much of a burden. The patient has always had medical coverage and his co-pays for office visits and medications are easily affordable. His illness has had a far more crippling effect personally and socially. Social situations present some challenges to anyone suffering from CD. According to the patient,
“You can’t go anywhere or do anything without knowing where the nearest bathroom is ... especially during a flair-up.” He expressed anxiety about the likelihood of a bowel accident, embarrassment of the explosiveness of his movements (especially in public places), & the odor associated with them. Long trips also present a challenge for the same reasons. He admits there have been times he refused to go out because of his illness. Personally he wants to be like everyone else. Many a time he consumed things not in his diet, things that he knew to be harmful to him, out of his desire to be normal. Between the ages of 22-30 therapy for his CD’s continued off and on as his condition flared-up and went into remission for short periods. As he points out, “You can see in family pictures if I’m having a flare-up or not.” It is obvious as you look at the pictures he was referring to his appearance. Evident in most of the pictures is the tell tail bloating and “moon face” associated with long term corticosteroid therapy.
He could not recall how he learned about his new diagnosis, only that he spoke to all types of medical professionals. He said, “(He) took something away from every visit.” He was given all forms of literature to read and sought information on his own. He was also referred to a support group, but he never went to a meeting. He recalls reading about the diet he was supposed to be on and that there was nothing on it that sounded good. As a restaurant manager he was accustomed to eating all types of foods whenever he wanted. Fast food was now discouraged. He also indulged in an occasional beer at home and in social situations. According to the literature, he was no longer able to drink and soda.
His experience was a delicate balance of the patient’s desire to be normal and feel healthy. He described his situation to that of a binge drinker, “You may not drink for a long time. Then one night you binge. You regret it the next morning because you feel like (crap). The only difference...